Coaching Search Profile: Mike Woodson

  • 03/22/2021 8:36 am in

After four seasons in Bloomington, Archie Miller is out as Indiana’s head coach and Scott Dolson’s search for a new leader for the program is underway.

Inside the Hall will profile many of the candidates being discussed for the job over the coming days. Our sixth profile takes a look at Mike Woodson.

Indianapolis native Mike Woodson is a name that Hoosier fans have known since the mid-1970s.

Woodson, a Broad Ripple product, starred for Indiana from 1976-80 under Bob Knight and went on to be selected No. 12 in the 1980 NBA draft by the New York Knicks.

A 6-foot-5 guard, Woodson finished his career in Bloomington with 2,062 points and led the Hoosiers to a 1979 NIT championship and a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 1980. He was named the Big Ten’s most valuable player in 1980 and in 2010 was recognized for his storied high school and collegiate career with an induction to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

Over 11 NBA seasons with the Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Kansas City/Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers, Woodson averaged 14 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

Following his playing career, Woodson began his career in coaching as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks. From there, Woodson had stints as an assistant coach with Cleveland, Philadelphia and Detroit before landing his first head coaching position with the Atlanta Hawks in 2004.

Over six seasons in Atlanta, the Hawks went 206-286 under Woodson, but won 47 and 53 games, respectively, over his final two seasons. In each of his last two seasons, Atlanta won a playoff series under Woodson. Following the 2009-10 season, the Hawks opted not to renew Woodson’s contract.

Woodson was subsequently hired by the Knicks as an assistant and he took over the Knicks head coaching job on an interim basis in March of 2012 when Mike D’Antoni resigned from the position. Despite the awkward timing of the move, Woodson guided the Knicks to an 18-6 record to close out the 2011-12 season. Following a first-round loss to Miami in the 2012 playoffs, Woodson was named the permanent head coach of the Knicks.

In the 2012-13 season, Woodson coached the Carmelo Anthony led Knicks to a 54-28 record and an Atlantic Division title. The Knicks advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals, where they fell to the Indiana Pacers.

The Knicks struggled in the 2013-14 season, missed the playoffs and Woodson was dismissed from his position in April at the conclusion of the regular season. Since his dismissal in New York, he has had worked as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers (2014-2018) and the Knicks, where he currently works under Tom Thibodeau.

Woodson was one of several former Knight players who were at Assembly Hall in February 2020 for the legendary coach’s first public appearance at the university since his dismissal in 2000.

“I visit coach in Montana and Texas,” Woodson said following Knight’s return. “This is home. I mean, he made all his marks right here at Indiana University. So for him to come back — I’ve spent the last month back here in Bloomington with him and had dinner a few times with him. And we were just happy as hell knowing that he was going to come today.”

The Indianapolis native turns 63 this week and has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the Indiana coaching job over the last week and over the weekend, it was reported that he spoke with Dolson about the opening.

The question most will have with Woodson is that he’s never coached in college. He clearly knows the culture of basketball in the state, is intimately familiar with the program and university and is well respected by former players who would undoubtedly support his hiring. He’s one of the most successful Indiana players to ever play in the NBA, is from Indiana and has coaching experience at the highest level of basketball.

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